How to Start an Ecommerce Website

how to start an ecommerce website
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Over 2.14 billion internet users bought goods and services in 2021. This number has been consistently increasing every year and is only expected to grow in the future.

Considering the massive market size, one can say that it's become mandatory for every business to start an online store.

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Source: Statista

If you are planning to develop ecommerce website, there is still room if you choose the right niche and take the right steps.

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That's exactly what this blog is about.

This is a complete step-by-step guide with experience-based and practical tips to start an online store.

  1. Study Your Market

    Market research helps identify the target audience and their characteristics, direct competitors, and the level of demand for your products and services.

    It enables you to weigh the potential methods to start an eCommerce website, think over sales strategy, and specify short- and medium-term goals.

    Just having an idea is not enough. You have to back it up with research and data.

  2. You Have Three Options as a Seller

    You can opt for one of the three options according to your expertise and resources as a seller. By taking more responsibilities with each option, you can maximize your profit margin.

    Manufacturer

    If you have the expertise of a manufacturer, required tools, and labor, go with this option.

    Let's say you want to sell furniture.

    Instead of buying furniture from other manufacturers, you can craft the furniture yourself to save that cost and sell it at higher profit margins.

    Dropshipping

    Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method for an online store where the merchant doesn't pay for warehousing inventory. He instead buys from third-party suppliers only when a customer places an order, and the product is directly shipped to the customer.

    image11
    Source: Oberlo.com
    Affiliate Seller

    Affiliate marketing entails getting a commission simply by promoting someone else's product or service.

    Affiliate networks work as a middleman between their affiliates and companies. They provide third-party checks and balances and handle the relationships. ClickBank, ShareASale, and Commission Junction are some of the popular affiliate networks.

    When you join an affiliate program, you'll get an affiliate URL link that has your affiliate ID or username. You use that link to promote the product or service on your website and other platforms.

  3. Write a Business Plan

    Writing a business plan helps plan long- and short-term business goals and foresee potential strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your business.

    Below is a detailed list of what you need to cover in a business plan to create a stronger foundation for your business.

    Products & Services

    Think about how your products or services stand out from the competition. Identify what problems your potential customers face and how you can fix them

    Market Analysis

    Market analysis will help you create a more effective sales and marketing plan to reach your customers and help prepare for the expected changes in your industry.

    Marketing & Sales

    Your business marketing and sales plan entails:

    • How you plan to reach your target audience
    • What your pricing strategy will be
    • What sort of partnerships and activities do you need
    • And how you plan on selling your products or services to your target market.

    This helps you plan beforehand how you will deal with potential threats and benefit from possible opportunities.

    Financial Projections

    You should know where the money will come from and where it will go. This plan should discuss when and where the investment is necessary and what return you expect using the following statements.

    • Sales & Revenue Projections

      Draw up your sales and revenue forecast for the first 12 months, and get the annual projects ready for your remaining three to five years.

    • Profit & Loss Statement

      It's an income statement where you sum up whether your business is making a profit or suffering a loss.

    • Cash Flow Statement

      A cash flow statement keeps a record of how much money you have in your bank at any given point.

    • Balance Sheet

      It's an overview of the financial health of your business that includes a list of your company's equity, assets, and liabilities.

  4. Decide a Name and Logo

    The logo and the name of your business are almost as significant as the products or services you plan to sell. An ideal logo and a business name will help you stay in your customers' top-of-mind for longer and give your potential customers a gist of what your business is all about.

    Here are some tips you need to keep in mind when brainstorming your business name:

    • Think over what you want to convey to customers.
    • Look into what brand names are available.
    • Get suggestions from your friends and family.
    • Focus on what makes you unique.
    • Keep it short and simple.
    • Line up and review the ideas of your business name.
    • Test your business name ideas.

    When it comes to choosing a logo for your eCommerce store, it should be:

    • Timeless
    • Matching your brand vibe
    • Eye-catching
    • Memorable
  5. Obtain Permits and Licenses

    Getting a business license might be important to set up your eCommerce store. For example, if you are operating in the US, you might need a Federal Business License. But the type of licenses you need differs from country to country.

    Remember that customers are worried about personal privacy when shopping online. Having a permit will increase your credibility.

    It can get difficult for you to learn about legal guidelines related to ecommerce stores. Considering taking the help of an attorney to get proper guidance before you start an eCommerce website.

  6. Buy Domain and Hosting

    You'll need a proper domain name and a hosting plan to start an eCommerce website. Choosing a proper domain name will allow you to connect with your readers.

    Make sure you choose the right domain service provider that follows these guidelines:

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    Source: Who.is

    A proper hosting plan will help you optimize your website for your customers. Here is how you can find the right hosting solution for your store:

    • Avoid those who offer "Free Domain" services.
    • Your domain provider should provide higher uptime.
    • Ensure that SSL encryption is included in the package.
    • Look for providers who offer automated backups and unlimited storage.
  7. Choose an Ecommerce Platform

    An eCommerce platform enables you to manage the website, operations, sales, and marketing.

    You have to consider the ease of use, security, updates, and flexibility when choosing the platform before you can get your eCommerce website developed.

    Here are some of the most popular options.

    Shopify
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    Shopify is most popular because it's user-friendly and doesn't require much technical knowledge to operate an online store. It comes with many add-ons to further improve the experience.

    However, many might find it quite expensive even with its great service. It's considered great for dropshipping but weak for SEO.

    BigCommerce
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    BigCommerce is one of the most diverse eCommerce platforms that comes with a large number of quality themes; however, not free.

    Any non-technical person can use it and scale the website as his business grows. You can also make tweaks with HTML and CSS to customize the store if you have a development background. It's much better for SEO and offers excellent multi-channel selling.

    However, there is no upselling feature and it can get expensive for high-volume stores.

    WooCommerce
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    WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin that is free to download. It offers several extensions for marketing, upselling, and integrating payment gateways.

    Open-source is usually an indication of scalability, but it has been reported to slow when you get more products and customers. You will also need some technical knowledge to take its full advantage.

    If you are familiar with WordPress, adding WooCommerce won't be much of a challenge and it's great for SEO.

    Magento
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    You can start with its free version for a small business and buy premium features once you have scaled. However, its premium licensing will cost tens of thousands of dollars every year.

    Magento, now Adobe Commerce, is fast, flexible, and scalable as long as you have a budget and a developer. The biggest brands like Nike and Cisco used Magento eCommerce Development to start eCommerce business. Features like automatic upsell and trigger-based email campaigns make it one of the favorites of large enterprises.

    Intellect Outsource
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    Intellect Outsource has its own eCommerce website development team builds your website from scratch and offers almost the same features as any other service provider.

    With their own eCommerce platform, they are able to design, develop, and launch unique websites equipped with every necessary feature required to run an online store.

    In addition to great customer service, you get a user-friendly, high-performance website built exactly according to the needs of your business and customers.

    All that for a one-time payment of just $500. To easily build your own ecommerce website, contact us

  8. Tips to Build the Best Ecommerce Website

    You need an interactive website if you want to run an eCommerce store. But there's more to it than web design and development. There are certain elements that can make or break the performance of your website.

    Make it User-Friendly

    Ecommerce is all about experience and how visitors feel when they open your website. So, when you start an eCommerce website, pay attention to the user journey.

    In addition to putting the best products on the homepage, make it easy for the users to perform an action. Utilize call-to-action buttons and improve website load speed.

    Mobile-Friendly Experience

    Do you know that mobile eCommerce contributes more than 72% of retail sales?

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    Source: Statista

    So, having a mobile-friendly website is one of the most crucial "start online store tips." What's more astonishing is their abandonment rate as 53% of mobile users leave the website after 3 seconds. That's why your eCommerce website should offer a better mobile-friendly experience.

    Should Be Easy to Navigate

    Navigation architecture should be your top priority when you start an eCommerce website. An organized and well-linked navigational bar will have a direct impact on your sales.

    The best eCommerce stores have some common key elements, including a search bar, product labels, and a drop-down navigation structure.

    Suggest Relevant Products

    Display products based on your visitors' needs and requirements. It is wise to put the most sought-after products on the homepage.

    You can also get help from your digital marketing team to know which products are attracting more users. You can also categorize the products based on your target audience's interests.

    Set Multiple Payment Options

    You must ensure visitors get a smooth shopping experience on your online store. Offering customers multiple payment options is one such tactic that can generate more revenue.

    For example, by adding PayPal Credit you can turn window shoppers into loyal customers for years to come. This offers low-income consumers a chance to buy products on 0% interest.

    Add a Blog Section

    Content marketing is an effective way to communicate with your audience. You can interact and engage users in different phases of their buying journey.

    Adding a blog section to your online store allows you to build relationships with the audience. You can not only educate customers but can also attract potential buyers through content marketing.

  9. Design a Marketing Plan

    Getting traffic can be daunting when you start an eCommerce website. This is when you are going to need a well-thought marketing plan. A good strategy can help you design and run marketing campaigns proficiently.

    Create Audience Personas

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    Source: HubSpot

    Crafting personas will help you engage the right audience. This will help you target qualified leads whether you are into B2B or B2C marketing. Consider the following key points while creating audience personas.

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Interests
    • Geographic location
    • Purchasing power

    Start with Paid Advertisements

    One of the pro "start online store tips" for eCommerce marketing is running paid advertisements. This is an effective way to put your products in front of the target audience. PPC and social media ads are great sources of getting early traffic to your online store.

    Invest in SEO

    Search engine optimization is a practice that can provide you with long-term benefits. If done right, you can get consistent traffic by earning higher positions on search engines. However, this is a long-term process that goes hand to hand with content marketing and other digital practices.

  10. Find Affiliate for Sales

    Affiliate marketing is a great way to market your products and boost sales. This is a type of advertising in which you contact third-party platforms to promote your products. Affiliate marketers can be bloggers, influencers, or other eCommerce stores. There are three main models for affiliate sales.

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    Source: HubSpot
    • Revenue Share

      You can offer a revenue percentage to affiliates on every sale they make for you.

    • Pay per Action

      Affiliates can get a commission for each lead or sale they drive to your online store.

    • Pay per Click

      Affiliates get a small commission for clicks when potential customers click on their referral links.

  11. Build Subscribers and Followers

    Customers who prefer eCommerce over traditional retail stores want a hassle-free experience. You can make things easier for your customers by introducing subscriptions. Your subscribers are warm leads who are more willing to buy from you.

    How to Build Social Following

    It has become easier to build a social following for eCommerce stores nowadays. You have to pick the right platform depending on your business model to get a social following, for starters. Here are some of the important B2B and B2C social platforms as of 2021:

    image21
    Source: Statista

    Here are some strategies to build your social following after you've chosen the appropriate platforms:

    • Look at what your competitors are doing.
    • Create solid business and personal profiles.
    • Build a consistent brand voice for all platforms.
    • Focus on cross-channel marketing.
    • Spend more time creating good content.
    • Don't forget about connecting with industry leaders.
    How to Build Subscribers List

    Putting the information of your subscribers in an Excel sheet won't help you. If you've got some email subscribers, you have to put them in proper lists to get the results you desire.

    Here is how you can use social media to drive prospects to email marketing:

    • Put a pop-up box on your eCommerce website.
    • Include a resource page to attract more users.
    • Provide free resources and use them as lead magnets.
  12. Calculate Conversion and Use Remarketing

    Measuring the results you've got after setting up your eCommerce store is necessary. Proper analytics and insights of your users will enable you to tweak your marketing strategy and optimize your eCommerce store.

    Here are seven ways you can calculate the conversion of your eCommerce store:

    1. Check the conversion rate of your store.

    2. Calculate the "Customer acquisition cost."

    3. Check the engagement on your socials.

    4. Take a look at your "Shopping cart abandonment rate."

    5. Find the ratio of repeat and first-time customers.

    6. Learn about the Bounce Rate of your store.

    7. Calculate the "Average order value."

    Remarketing is a great way to reach out to your previous customers. If done properly, remarketing can help increase sales and strengthen your online brand.

    You can get help from this remarketing guide to implement it in your eCommerce store.

Final Words

With a strong business foundation, reliable eCommerce website, and a smart marketing plan, it's unlikely that your online venture will fail. Make sure you stay persistent, use analytics, and keep improving.

The website is your store and it should get the most of your attention. Although you might not develop it yourself, it must be flexible and scalable or you might have to migrate the entire store to another platform, which would be very expensive.

You would have one less thing to worry about if you outsource this task to a company like Intellect Outsource. We will manage everything from designing to launching and also offer additional services of Catalog Management, product data entry, back office support, Order processing and many more all at a very reasonable price.

 

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